Stuttgart, Germany – Daimler AG has acquired nearly 10 per cent of Tesla Motors, the only production automaker selling a highway-capable electric vehicle in North America and Europe.

The two companies have already been working closely to integrate Tesla’s lithium-ion battery packs and charging electronics into the first 1,000 units of Daimler’s electric Smart car. The investment enables the partners to collaborate more closely on the development of battery systems, electric drive systems and in individual vehicle projects.

“Our strategic partnership is an important step to accelerate the commercialization of electric drives globally,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, of Daimler AG’s group research. “As a young and dynamic company, Tesla stands for visionary power and pioneering spirit. Together with Daimler’s 120 years of experience in the automotive sector, this collaboration is a unique combination of two companies’ strengths. This marks another important milestone in Daimler’s strategy for sustainable mobility.”

As part of the collaboration, Prof. Herbert Kohler, vice-president of e-drive and future mobility at Daimler, will take a seat on Tesla’s board of directors.

Daimler has independently been moving forward in lithium-ion technology and in March, it founded the Deutsche Accumotive GmbH, a joint venture with Evonik Industries AG, making it the first vehicle manufacturer worldwide that develops, produces and markets batteries for automotive applications.

Daimler has had 100 Smart electric cars in large-scale trials in London since 2007, and later this year, the Smart assembly plant in France will start production of up to 1,000 units of the second-generation Smart Fortwo with electric drive, which will initially be used for mobility projects in Berlin or Italy. Daimler will also start small-series production of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class with a fuel drive system this year, and in 2010 will introduce its first battery-powered Mercedes-Benz. As of 2012, the company plans to equip all Smart and Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles with its own production lithium-ion batteries.

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